By: Meetanjali Sood Kalra
Barot is a beautiful tourist location in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. The place is accessible though Mandi- Jogindernagar highway and bifurcates from Ghatasni, which is about 14 kilometers from Jogindernagar, another main town of the district. Another good option of reaching Barot is by train till Jogindernagar and from there by road, as the closest railway station is at Jogindernagar which has a narrow gauge railway line connecting it to Pathankot.
Barot has a trolley link till Jogindernagar, which was made during the British rule to facilitate transport of construction material required by the power projects, which is now maintained by Punjab State Electricity Board. Summer is the best time to visit Barot as the winters are very cold, as it is along the banks of river Uhl, but even then the winters can be a uniquely charming for a few. There are not too many options for staying at Barot except one or two private lodges. One can either opt for stay-at-home options or the FRH, PWD rest houses with Swiss cottage architecture, which can be a good deal.
As one proceeds towards Barot, one can see beautiful landscapes, water bodies and huts with roofs of slate. One interesting thing, which is never seen elsewhere, is the Gharat (grindstone), which happens to be about 100 years old. The Gharat is basically vertical shaft made of stones grinding against each other, and are used essentially for grinding wheat, rice and maize and also to extract oil by the kinetic energy of the gushing water. Life along the hillside is slow, calm and easy going, as people here do not have much expectations or aspirations.
Barot is basically a backpacker’s destination as there are too many options of trekking here and the most liked one is the trail to Bada Bhangal and Kullu. Over the period of time the place has also developed as into an angling tourist destination as there are three artificial lakes including one reservoir and an old fountain that channelizes the waters of river Uhl at regular intervals. Just along the river there is the temple of Dev Pashakot, a local deity of rain. The main camping site of Barot is the Thandi Golai, which is on way to Mayot, or otherwise there is an uphill trek that is in Lapas panchayat.
There is a trout breeding centre and fish farm at Barot from which the fish are released into the Uhl River. Two reservoirs of the power project made right next to the breeding center is another attraction of this remote village, which makes the valley look more beautiful with mountains overlooking the panoramic view of the reservoir.There are many temples of Devtas in the Chauhar valley, alternatively known. People visit this place due to its beautiful surroundings, as it also happens to be an entrance to Nagru Wildlife Sanctuary, which is just across the trout farm across the Uhl.
The Sanctuary is home to Monal, wild cats, monkeys and the Black Bear. There is a trek route till Kullu that passes through the thickly populated cedar and pine forest. There are two good options of forest rest houses here to spend a night, one is at Thaltuckhod and the other one is at Silbandhwari. Himri peak is the highest point here and is a good choice for those who want to experience outdoor activities like trekking, fishing, picnics and mountain travel. The spectacular sight of hills accompanied with pleasant weather and green pastures make the place a little different from others.